Is this the party to whom I am speaking

Like many people our age, my wife and I pepper our speech with rapid-fire cultural references. We’ve just seen so many of the same movies that we just quote them constantly.

This must provide some confusion for our children, who probably know not what we are referring to half the time. I await the day when our children realize just how hip and cool their parents are because they know so many cultural references.

That, of course, is never going to happen. All of our cultural references are at least 10 years old, and most of them are older. When our kids get old enough to understand cultural references, they still won’t understand ours.

This happened recently, but I was the one not getting the cultural reference. My dad is fond of saying “Is this the party to whom I am speaking?” when talking on the phone. He thinks this is hilarious. For years, I thought this was a quirk just about him: something he made up, or a private joke the rest of us did not know about.

But then I heard my mother-in-law say the same thing. There’s no way that two different people in two different families came up with the same lame joke. I had to do some further investigating.

So I headed to the one place where I could figure out where this came from: I asked them. Just kidding! No, I asked the internet of course. It came from the TV show “Laugh-In,” which wasn’t allowed in our house when I was a child, mostly because it had already been cancelled. We had no idea what it referred to, but that did not keep our parents from saying it anyway. That’s just how powerful nostalgia is.

Nostalgia has been playing a big role in my life every time I walk into a store lately. When I was a kid, grocery stores played music in the background, but it wasn’t music we had ever heard before. I guess some might call it “Latin jazz,” but most of us call it “elevator music.”

Then at some point, stores stopped playing elevator music and started playing some hits from the 70s. Slowly the 70s gave way to playing hits from the 80s, but that was not until 2006.

Sometimes I wonder about their musical choices. One time in a big box department store in Pocatello, we heard the store play “Just Another Brick in the Wall” by Pink Floyd. Somehow that song about rebellion did not fit the atmosphere of buying discount socks for $3.99.

Now stores are all playing hits from the 90s. This can only mean one thing. Some of the people I grew up with (I came of age, as they say, in the 90s) must have some money.

I figure the stores are playing 90s hits to get people my age in a good enough mood, because it is a fact that people in a good mood buy more stuff. What I’d like to know is how people my age came across enough money that the stores are targeting them. I sure haven’t figured that out.

Sometimes, though, it is unnerving to hear the sounds of your teenage years blared over the produce section. There’s a lot of songs I had on a mixed tape back in the day that I’ve forgotten about, but here they are, dredged up for my enjoyment, so I can remember being worried about zits, all while I consider what cold cereal I’m going to buy.

My kids are growing up at a time when there is so much media that grocery stores might have trouble about what to play when they get older. Most of what they listen to isn’t played on the radio, but comes only from You Tube. And lately, its consisted of the song “Baby Shark,” which mostly has the lyrics “doo doo doo doo doo doo.”

Baby Shark is still a step ahead of a popular You Tube hit from a few years ago whose main lyrics were “pen pineapple apple pen.” But all my children have to do to confuse their children is start singing “doo doo doo doo doo,” and everyone their age will know what they are talking about. The rest of us will be clueless.

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